Virtual walking tour celebrates famed venues
TORONTO June , 2020 – Live music may be in a pandemic lockdown, but the Downtown Yonge BIA has found an innovative way to showcase Toronto’s vibrant music history, launching the Music Memories of Yonge website at https://musicmemoriesofyonge.com/. Visitors can take a virtual walking tour, stopping at 15 legendary music locations with stories and rare photos about the venues and the artists who played there.
“Walking tours have been very popular among music fans, so we have taken them online,” says Mark Garner, Downtown Yonge’s Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director. “Visitors can see and learn about the sites of these fabled stages – even if they can’t be there in person.”
Garner says the virtual walking tours are part of an overall pivot to digital activities – which he expects to continue beyond the pandemic.
“COVID-19 necessitated a new approach to community engagement, which has led to new opportunities and new connections – within and from outside our neighbourhood,” he observes. “We are moving to an online marketplace, first for shopping and now for leisure and entertainment.”
Music Memories of Yonge demonstrates how in-person activities can be effectively replicated digitally, creating an interesting and fun experience, Garner says.
Respected music writer and historian Nicolas Jennings, who often led the walking tours when they could be done on foot, provided the text and photos for the virtual tour. The new interactive map chronicles such famed venues as the Colonial Tavern, Brown Derby, Piccadilly Tube and Club Bluenote. It also includes historical background on some locations still standing – including Massey Hall (currently under renovation), Maple Leaf Gardens (now the Mattamy Centre) and the Eaton Auditorium (now The Carlu, renamed after its designer, French architect Jacques Carlu – a fact noted on the new website).
Music Memories of Yonge includes a search function, enabling visitors to choose a venue type (taverns, clubs, auditoriums, hotels) and genre type (jazz, blues, soul, calypso, rock, etc.), to customize and personalize the experience.
“Music Memories of Yonge is part of our comprehensive music strategy, to celebrate Toronto’s extraordinary musical scene – past, present and future,” says Garner. “Even as we stay at home, there is still much to celebrate.”